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What are the basic components of a marital separation agreement in Georgia?

Tuesday, August, 21, 2012

1) What are the basic components of a marital separation agreement in Georgia?

  • Visitation
  • Child Support Payments Under Georgia Law
  • Spousal Maintenance Under Georgia Law
  • Property Division
  • Division of Debts
  • Health Insurance
  • Disposition of the Marital Home
  • Pension Plans
  • Tax Issues
  • Future Dispute Settlement


2) In what ways have the law favored heterosexual marriage vs. other living partnerships?     The law traditionally has endorsed and sanctioned marriage. Public policy supports marriage as necessary to the stability of the family, the basic societal unit. To preserve and encourage marriage, the law reserves many rights and privileges to married persons. Cohabitation carries none of those rights and privileges. It has been said that cohabitation has all of the headaches of marriage without any of the benefits. Cohabiting couples have little guidance as to their legal rights in such areas as property ownership, responsibility for debts, custody, access to health care and other benefits, and survivorship.


3) What can cohabitants do to protect their assets?     Family Law experts advise cohabiting couples to address these and other issues in a written cohabitation agreement, similar to a Premarital Agreement. The contract should outline how the couple will divide expenses and own property, whether they will maintain joint or separate bank accounts, and how their assets will be distributed if one partner dies or leaves the relationship. Property acquired during cohabitation, such as real estate, home furnishings, antiques, artwork, china, silver, tools, and sports equipment, may be contested if partners separate or if one of them dies. To avoid this, the agreement should clearly outline who is entitled to what.



4) What are the ways that cohabiting parents can legitimize their parenthood so that both can legally protect their relationships with their children?     Cohabiting parents may face legal difficulties if they separate without a written parenting agreement. An unmarried father must acknowledge Paternity by filing an Affidavit with the state legitimating his child and establishing his parental relationship. By legitimating their child and being involved in the child's upbringing, unmarried parents establish their right to seek custody or visitation if the family breaks up. Legitimation is also important for inheritance purposes. If an unmarried father dies without a will, his legitimated child can freely inherit his estate (see Trimble v. Gordon, 430 U.S. 762, 97 S. Ct. 1459, 52 L. Ed. 2d 31 [1977], which held that a signed statement establishing paternity of a child born out of wedlock is adequate protection of the child's inheritance rights). Of course, the best way to guarantee the distribution of assets to children is through a written will.

Georgia is one of three states that would not recognize such contracts between living partners as valid by law. There still would be no prohibition of writing such contracts, but such contracts would not be binding by law.



5) What is the deffinition of same sex couples and civil partnerhsips? A same-sex relationship can take one of many forms, from romantic and sexual, to non-romantic close relationships between two persons of the same gender. Many gay and lesbian people are in a committed same-sex relationship.  See A Civil Partnership is another way of describing a relationship similar to marriage for two people who are of the same sex. See



6) What changes once I separate from my marriage? Unlike divorce, separation in marriage is not a complete break of the legal union of marriage. It's a halfway status that comes with its own set of legal rules. Many people confuse the status with one spouse moving out of the physical home, but this is not the case. There are far more criteria that must be met for a legal separation of marriage to occur.


7) What is alimony?     Alimony is sometimes called spousal support. It's designed to provide the lower-income spouse with money for living expenses over-and-above the money provided by child support. Alimony is different from child support. Where child support is a simple mathematical calculation using guidelines published by your state, alimony is at the discretion of the judge.


Can I get it?/Will I have to pay it? There are several factors a judge considers when deciding whether to grant alimony. These differ from state to state, of course, but they usually involve things like the parties' relative ability to earn money, both now and in the future; their respective age and health; the length of the marriage; the kind of property involved, and the conduct of the parties. In general, about the only time a judge will award alimony in most states is when one spouse has been economically dependent on the other spouse for most of a lengthy marriage.


Why would I want to pay alimony? Alimony gets treated differently from child support on your tax return. Alimony is tax deductible to the person who pays it, and included in the taxable income of the person who receives it. Child support, by contrast, is not taxable to the person who receives it and not tax deductible to the person who pays it. That means that when you and your spouse have dramatically different incomes, there may be some tax advantages to using alimony, even if a judge wouldn't ordinarily award it.



8) What is palimony?     Palimony is a substitute for alimony in cases in which the couple were not married but lived together for a long period and then terminated their relationship. The key issue is whether there was an agreement that one partner would support the other in return for the second making a home and performing other domestic duties beyond sexual pleasures. Written palimony contracts are rare, but the courts have found "implied" contracts, when a woman has given up her career, has managed the household, or assisted in the man's business for a lengthy period of time. In the past 20 years palimony suits have proliferated, particularly against movie stars and wealthy businessmen.  The earliest was the famous California case of Sarah Althea Hill v. Senator William Sharon in the 1880s (she lost). The line between a mutual "affair" and a relationship warranting palimony is a difficult one that must be decided on a case-by-case basis. Palimony suits may be avoided by contracts written prior to or during the relationship. See this website for laws concerning palimony in California


9) How will child support be determined?    


In Georgia there are specific guidelines mainly based on income. Use the following website to assist you through the process:


Posted By:

Steven Lindenblatt

Care and Counseling Center of Georgia

Decatur, Georgia